Sydney Morning Herald Interviews Rachel Deane

Lending an ear to client's needs

Audiologists are using high-end technologies to carve a niche for themselves in the hearing aid industry, writes Josh Jennings. Audiologist Rachel Deane says lots of clients at her clinic are experiencing hearing problems at work. Sometimes their hearing affects their participation in a board meeting or a conference call. Deane talks with her clients  for about an hour initially but can spend up to 10 hours with some, given the circumstances.

"I have the opportunity to meet people and go through quite an intimate experience with them; to take them from a position where they're often struggling with an important aspect of their life," she says. "We talk in depth about that and we talk about possible solutions."  Deane, director of Melbourne-based independent private practice Hearing Studio, says her aim is to help people (predominantly working executives) connect with other people by providing customised hearing solutions.

Audiologist Rachel Deane has an intimate knowledge of the hearing challenges of her clients. She conducts audiological assessments and collects extensive patient histories for diagnoses, and determines the best technology to meet her clients' needs.

"I had a woman here the other day who had been wearing a particular technology for a very long time," Deane says. "We fitted her with a new technology and new solutions and, for the first time, she was able to make a call on her mobile phone. She spoke to her daughter and the two of them were screaming with excitement for a few seconds."

Deane founded Hearing Studio in 2010. Her qualifications include a master of audiology (honours) and a master of business administration. Since becoming a qualified audiologist 15 years ago, she's worked in research and a number of other public and private sector roles.

"My technological knowledge has grown the most," says Deane. "So, understanding the ... impact of a technology like Bluetooth; how that can be designed and implemented to create a meaningful solution for someone."

Audiologists are the leaders in non-surgical management of ear disorders such as hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo, according to Audiology Australia. Audiologists deliver clinical services in environments such as hospitals, hearing aid clinics and private practice. Degree-qualified, they can also be involved in researching the development of new hearing aids and cochlear implants, hearing education and advisory roles. Deane pairs her clinical role with her director's hat. Being the director of her own business entails monitoring business finances, marketing and staff management.

"There are multiple things you are doing; not just every week, but every day," she says.

Deane says her goal in the next year is to expand the business and specialise further in invisible wearable technologies that interface with other technologies such as smart phones.

"It's all about wanting to really love what I do and choosing the parts of the industry and the parts of the job that I really enjoy," she says. "I really enjoy working with younger adults and I really enjoy working with fabulous technology. So we've combined the two."